According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, telehealth is defined as telecommunication to link a care provider and a patient (Alexander et al., 2020). The e-visits may include remote patient evaluation, brief check-ups, and other services, which are used to protect and make the lives of older adults more comfortable in nursing homes. In the context of the current pandemic, older adults are a vulnerable population, and telehealth technology is beneficial to help the, avoid contacts that can be potentially dangerous to their health. Alexander et al. (2020) found that 79% of the nursing home residents involved in the study partially refer to telehealth, while 16% have no use, and 5% use it to the maximum. The barriers to using telehealth included a low adoption level, problems with timeliness and safety of appointments, and a lack of infrastructure and evidence-based protocols. Small and rural nursing homes have more disparities compared to urban locations.
The inability to provide all the services remotely and insurance coverage are the key disadvantages of telehealth. Therefore, the current policies should be adjusted, and nurses can impact this process by lobbying politicians to clarify the problems and offer solutions. As stated by the American Nurses Association, the protection and advancement of the scope of practice is the main prioritized initiative for nurses (ANA, 2015). For example, such practice barriers as infrastructure issues, a lack of relevant licensure, and timeliness of care delivery through telehealth should be addressed. Mason et al. (2020) note that nurses can use either individual or collective strategy to lobby policymakers. Thus, telehealth technology should be promoted among nursing home residents, care providers, and policymakers as it is one of the ways to decrease isolation and protect the health of vulnerable residents in the context of limited resources.
Alexander, G. L., Powell, K. R., & Deroche, C. B. (2020). An evaluation of telehealth expansion in US nursing homes. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Web.
ANA. (2015). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice. American Nurses Association.
Mason, D. J., Gardner, D. B., Outlaw, F. H., & O’Grady, E. T. (2020). Policy and politics in nursing and health Care (8th ed). Elsevier Health Sciences.